Charité and the Excellence Initiative
Research infrastructure. Networks. Expertise. Our aim is for Berlin to become a hub for the life sciences, bringing together the best talent and expertise. Charité, known for its innovation in research and teaching, and dedicated to the translation of research findings into practice, is central to this endeavor. Its interdisciplinary research centers are crucial in this respect, providing the necessary link between research expertise and the delivery of highquality clinical services. Through the Excellence Initiative, Charité researchers are holding their own against the best in the world, and making their mark on both the national and international stage.
As a nationwide program, the Excellence Initiative aims to strengthen and support outstanding research locations, allowing them to compete on both the national and international stage. The first phase of the Excellence Initiative was launched in 2005. The decision to continue the program into phase two was taken in 2009. All decisions regarding funding allocations are made by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the The German Council of Science and Humanities Wissenschaftsrat (WR).
Clusters of Excellence
Charité boasts a number of Clusters of Excellence – major international research facilities, which provide research and training opportunities, and produce a myriad of research collaborations. Successful bids during the first two phases of the program secured funding for Charité's NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence and its neuroscience endeavors until the end of the second phase of the program (in late 2017). Other Charité-based researchers, from the fields of medicine, biology, medical physics, and biophysics, are involved in the Unifying Concepts in Catalysis Cluster of Excellence, which is being coordinated by Technische Universität Berlin. Charité’s involvement also helped establish the Languages of Emotion Cluster of Excellence at Freie Universität Berlin, which received Excellence Initiative funding between 2008 and 2012.
Graduate Schools aim to offer superior research environments for the training of outstanding doctoral students. Oncology and regenerative medicine are two areas of research focus currently receiving funding via the Excellence Initiative. Charité is also involved in the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, a graduate institution of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Current Charité-based projects
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence
The NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence represents a highly-concentrated conglomerate of neuroscience experts and expertise. NeuroCure research groups are actively engaged in research into the fundamental aspects of neuronal processing or, more specifically, the manner in which the brain both processes and stores information. NeuroCure is an interdisciplinary consortium, whose main aim is the transfer of knowledge from basic neuroscience to clinical application. Working in cooperation with both university-based and nonuniversity-based partners, NeuroCure works to improve our understanding of disease mechanisms, thereby contributing to the development of effective treatments. The consortium's overall research focus centers on the study of neurological disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Other research interests include the study of psychological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies (BSRT)
Aimed at outstanding young researchers, the BSRT Graduate School offers an internationally-competitive doctoral program with interdisciplinary research and training opportunities in the field of regenerative medicine. The BSRT's work is centered around the development of treatments for disorders of the immune, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems, for which treatment options remain inadequate. In addition to striving to gain new insights into the body's ability to heal itself, researchers are also focusing on finding ways to use this knowledge to develop new treatment and diagnostic procedures. The BSRT holds major benefits for graduates from the life sciences, materials science, and engineering. Aside from its globally-unique dedication to fostering collaborative research and its mentoring system, the school's inspirational network of institutions and researchers offers a truly stimulating environment.
Berlin School of Integrative Oncology (BSIO)
The aim of the BSIO is to translate the most pressing clinical challenges within the field of oncology into clearly-focused research questions. This is to ensure the prompt clinical implementation of new biological and technological methods of detection and innovative treatment approaches. The BSIO offers interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to the training of young clinical researchers, allowing them to benefit from training in a truly international environment, which places them alongside doctoral students from the natural sciences and postdoctoral researchers. Operating at the interface between life sciences research and clinical application, the BSIO allows life sciences researchers to gain insights into clinical practice, while offering clinicians indepth training in research methods. Thus, empowered to communicate using a common language, researchers can forge interdisciplinary alliances to find innovative solutions to challenges within the field of oncology.
Projects with Charité involvement
UniCat Cluster of Excellence
Unifying Concepts in Catalysis (UniCat) is the only catalysis-based project currently receiving funding through the German Excellence Initiative. It is also the only natural sciences Cluster in the Berlin and Brandenburg areas. An interdisciplinary research network, which has been funded since 2007, UniCat is dedicated to the study of topics such as the chemical conversion of natural gas and biogas, the activation and conversion of carbon dioxide, the production of hydrogen from water and light, and the synthesis of active substances using enzymes. The Cluster comprises more than 240 researchers working across facilities in Berlin and Potsdam.
Berlin School of Mind and Brain (M&B)
The Berlin School of Mind and Brain offers a two-year master's degree and a three-year doctoral degree. Both degree programs will open numerous career opportunities for outstanding young researchers. The M&B has an interdisciplinary outlook, with a clear focus on issues at the interface between the humanities, behavioral sciences, and neuroscience. All training and research activities are conducted in English. The M&B Graduate School forms part of the German Excellence Initiative, and was established by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in cooperation with Charité.